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Advertise Faces Cup Challenge

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Advertise | Racing Post

In a division where strength and muscularity are vital, it is perhaps a surprise that the still-developing 3-year-old generation have fared so well in Newmarket’s G1 Darley July Cup with eight verdicts over the elder sprinters since the brilliant Stravinsky in 1999. In fact, in that 20-year period some of the race’s stellar winners have come from that age group, with Mozart (Ire) following on from that fellow Ballydoyle celebrity in 2001 and preceding one of the very best in Oasis Dream (GB) by two years. The latter was responsible for the 2015 renewal’s 3-year-old hero Muhaarar (GB), one of a weighty trio alongside Harry Angel (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) and US Navy Flag (War Front) to have conquered in the last four runnings.

This time, the onus is on Advertise (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) to lead the way after his impressive success in the G1 Commonwealth Cup. Bouncing back to the form of his G1 Phoenix S. and G2 July S. triumphs in 2018 in the Royal Ascot highlight, Phoenix Thoroughbred Limited’s bay was handed greater gravitas on Friday when the filly that trailed over eight lengths behind him in that June 21 contest, Royal Intervention (Ire) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}), took York’s G3 Summer S. Trainer Martyn Meade, who can be forgiven for trying Advertise over a mile with the lure of the May 4 G1 2000 Guineas proving too difficult to resist, is happy that he has his stable kingpin in the right niche now but admits to being in the dark as to how the generations match up.

“Three-year-olds do have a good record in this, but it is a tough ask, by far the toughest race of his career so far,” he said. “He’s going into unknown territory, taking on the older horses. Some of the older ones can be in and out of form, but when they are on-song they take a bit of beating. On balance, we’ve just got to throw him in and hope he puts his best foot forward. He’s won on the track last year and has come on since then, so I hope he can pull it off. It’s about how you perform on the day.”

Although it is a long time since Sir Michael Stoute won the July Cup, during the period 1981 to 1987 the master of Freemason Lodge was successful three times with Marwell (Ire), Green Desert and Ajdal. Perhaps his greatest opportunity since comes with Saeed Suhail’s Dream of Dreams (Ire) (Dream Ahead), who would undoubtedly already be a Group 1-winning sprinter had his way cleared a fraction earlier in the June 22 Diamond Jubilee S. Devouring the ground late on there, the 5-year-old was in front of the tiring Blue Point (Ire) (Shamardal) a stride after the line and the Royal meeting’s sensation Danny Tudhope retains the ride. “I wasn’t expecting him to run so well at Ascot, but I think Sir Michael was–he had every confidence in the horse,” the owner’s racing manager Bruce Raymond commented.

Raymond, who rode the 1967 July Cup winner Forlorn River (GB), has doubts about the undulations for the former Kevin Ryan-trained chestnut who joined his new stable in summer 2017. “I’m not so sure about the track,” he added. “He made his debut on the Rowley Mile and was only just beaten. It was soft ground that day and led us into thinking for a while that he needed it, but he doesn’t. This season he’s worked like a different horse–he only works on his own, but he’s moving beautifully. He used to be keen early, but he’s not now. He’s a relaxed horse and I don’t really need to say what a good job Sir Michael has done with him–his whole demeanour has changed.”

In the past, the July Cup was the reserve of the classy individuals and too much of a bridge for sprint handicappers to gap, even those who had won prestige events such as Royal Ascot’s Wokingham. Now that such handicaps are becoming ever-more competitive, it is only a matter of time before one manages to do the double and Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum’s Cape Byron (GB) (Shamardal) is unexposed at this trip. The way the 5-year-old travelled through the Wokingham on June 22 on his first start over this distance suggests he is within touching distance of a Group 1 sprint. Officially rated just six pounds off Advertise and Dream of Dreams, the homebred who was third in the 2017 Listed Prix le Fabuleux over nine furlongs only needs another leap forward to be involved.

“I thought his Wokingham win was comprehensive in a very competitive handicap carrying a large weight. It was a group performance in some description,” trainer Roger Varian said. “Whether it was a Group 1 performance, he probably needs to improve again to win a July Cup. You could argue he is still unexposed at the trip and I think a stiff six furlongs like Newmarket should be tailor-made for him.

“If you are looking at Royal Ascot form, I thought Advertise was very impressive and you give him a lot of respect, because he is a dual Group 1 winner now and he could bring the classiest form into the race. There are some nice horses in the race, but you could argue there is not a sprinter stamping his authority on the division at the moment. It is a open year, so you could say it is a nice year to have a runner in the race.”

Of the other 3-year-olds engaged are the Ballydoyle TDN Risings Stars Ten Sovereigns (Ire) (No Nay Never) and Fairyland (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}), with the former needing to raise his game despite being a G1 Middle Park S. winner. His fourth placing when heavily favoured for the Commonwealth Cup raises question marks and it could be argued that the G1 Cheveley Park S. winner Fairyland ran a better race than him when a close-up fifth in the G1 King’s Stand S. also at Royal Ascot on June 18. Her record over this trip reads four wins and a third placing from five starts, with her sole defeat coming in the G3 Albany S. at Royal Ascot 2018 when she beat all rivals on the far side only to lose out overall to two who raced near the stands. Add to that the fact that Seamie Heffernan is in the Evie Stockwell colours that have proven so lucky for him in the past and she rates a serious threat.

Another with solid form at six furlongs is the Gredleys’ Pretty Pollyanna (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}), whose best performance came over this course and distance when winning the G2 Duchess of Cambridge S. by seven lengths a year ago. Also successful in the G1 Prix Morny, the homebred was runner-up in the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas at The Curragh on May 26 and seventh when too much use was made of her in the G1 Coronation S. at Royal Ascot on June 21. “Probably her most impressive performance came at the July meeting in the Duchess of Cambridge S., which proves she is very effective on the track,” trainer Michael Bell commented. “I think she is in very good form and I’m expecting a very good run.”

On the undercard, the G2 bet365 Superlative S. is fascinating fayre as the 2-year-old colts with 2000 Guineas pretensions step forward to be counted. Charlie Appleby, who collected 12 months ago with Quorto (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), saddles another son of the 2004 winner of this in King’s Command (GB), who warmed up by winning the same six-furlong novice contest as Quorto on June 21. A half-brother to the stable’s much-vaunted Zakouski (GB) (Shamardal) from the family of Lonhro (Aus) and Niello (Aus), he got going late to claim a narrow win on debut and Appleby has the best juvenile seen out so far in Pinatubo (Ire) (Shamardal) to measure him against. “I was very pleased with his first run there over six, because we always thought that seven furlongs and potentially further will be his forte,” he said. “He will have learnt plenty that day. He travelled well and although he got outpaced, once Kerrin [McEvoy] gave him the come-along, he picked up well.”

Aidan O’Brien was due to bring the impressive Curragh maiden winner Armory (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) to this but instead brings another son of Galileo in Year of the Tiger (Ire), who got off the mark over this trip at Naas a week ago. Previously seventh behind Pinatubo in the Listed Chesham S. at Royal Ascot on June 22, the son of Tiggy Wiggy (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) bids to follow where the stable’s Royal Lytham (Fr) (Gleneagles {Ire}) led in Thursday’s G2 July S. in putting an unplaced Ascot run well behind him. He is joined by a clutch of well-regarded unexposed types such as Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum’s June 7 Haydock scorer Juan Elcano (GB) (Frankel {GB}) from the Kevin Ryan stable, King Power Racing’s Richard Hannon-trained Mystery Power (Ire) (No Nay Never) who was also a winner at Haydock on June 22, and China Horse Club, Ballylinch Stud and Clipper Logistics’ June 14 Sandown scorer Shared Belief (Ire) (Dandy Man {Ire}).

Hannon has high hopes for Mystery Power, who beat the same rival that Juan Elcano had in Subjectivist (GB) (Teofilo {Ire}) on his sole start and that form was given credence when the runner-up went on to score by seven lengths last week.

“Mystery Power ran a very nice race first time out on soft ground at Haydock and he has come on for the run,” he commented. “The Mark Johnston horse which finished second behind him won at Chelmsford the other day, so it gives the form a nice boost. He has improved a lot for that first run. I think the track will suit him and the better ground should suit him more as well.”

Elsewhere, the G2 Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile at Ascot sees last year’s winner Beat the Bank (GB) (Paco Boy {Ire}) defend his crown following a career-best second in the June 18 G1 Queen Anne S. over the straight mile. He has to give three pounds to all, including Ahmad Alotaibi’s Zaaki (GB) (Leroidesanimaux {Brz}) who was already capable of smart form before his gelding operation but who has subsequently won the Listed Pavilion S. over the straight mile here on May 1 and Epsom’s G3 Diomed S. over an extended mile a month later.

“He ran a hell of a race in the Queen Anne and I would have settled for that beforehand, given his run in the Lockinge,” Beat the Bank’s trainer Andrew Balding said. “We know he goes on the round course at Ascot, having won the race last year, so it is just a case of keeping our fingers crossed.”

In the G3 Prix de Ris-Orangis at Maisons-Laffitte on Saturday, Godolphin’s Inns of Court (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) returns to six furlongs following his impressive win over five in Chantilly’s G2 Prix du Gros-Chene on June 2. Previously, the dual Group 1 runner-up who took this 12 months ago had won the Listed Prix Servanne over this course and distance on Apr. 26 and sets a lofty standard at a venue he is at home at.

“Inns of Court is in great form and has run well before at Maisons-Laffitte, including winning this race last year,” Godolphin’s Lisa-Jane Graffard said. “We are hoping for a good performance, which will put him on course for the [Aug. 4] G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville.”

He meets Sutong Pan’s Gold Vibe (Ire) (Dream Ahead), who is yet to recapture the form of his close second in the G1 Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in October.

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